Keep Kids Busy On Your Summer Fun Road Trip by Missy Home School Mom

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As I was growing up, my family used to spend our vacations road tripping to zoos in our area.  We’d drive to a city, stay in a hotel with a pool, do a day at the zoo, and drive home.  It was the perfect way to spend a long weekend.

Now that I’m the mom, I get to share my love of zoos with my children.  Although we don’t have any zoo trips planned for the future, I’ve put together this post as a guide for next time.  I always tell my husband that I’m just one grocery trip away from a road trip

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I’m writing about a zoo vacation, but I think this process of creating themed road trips (or a Party on Wheels) can be used for other themed trips as well.  I’ve already written about a dinosaur themed one, and I think a Disney one would be really easy to host.  Perhaps you’re heading to the beach, so you’d like to plan a pirates or beach themed road trip.  Or a historical-period theme for a road trip to a battleground or famous house.  There is only the limit of your imagination as you plan your party.

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If you type in “zoo party food” into Pinterest, all sorts of fun ideas come onto the screen.  There’s healthy foods like tiger-striped orangeshummus and pepper lions, and birds made of of fruit.  And, there’s cute foods like banana penguinssnake hot dogs, and avocado alligators.  Even easy food like licorice jungle vinesanimal crackerszebra cakespeanuts, and bananas.  All of them would make great party snacks.

For lunches, look at “zoo bento boxes,” for lots of fun ways to pack basic foods.  I like how sweet this elephant one is and how simple this lion one looks.

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I like to divide my activities into three groups: in the car, at the rest stop, and at the destination.


– zoo train play mat

– animals and their homes folder game

– animals of Finding Nemo matching game

– safari spelling words

– noodle snakes

– preschool learning pack

– magnetic popsicle stick puzzles

– bird and worms games

– small to large animal matching game

– 5 Cheeky Monkeys Puppets


– animal movement cards

– penguin waddle


– peanut fine-motor transfer

– memory match cards

– mini habitats sensory bins (with Safari toob animals)

– penguin sink play


A great way to get into the mood for a themed road trip is with costumes.  They can be as simple as a mask or hat, or as elaborate as a full costume.  With the zoo theme, you have even more options, because you could be an animal or a zookeeper.  I found these neat DIY masks that the kids could color in the car.  And, here’s an easy way to dress comfortably and still look like a zookeeper.  If you don’t want to go too elaborate, themed t-shirts for the whole family are an easy way to go (plus it’s safer to all wear the same outfit in public).


With a themed road trip or any party, the easiest way to set the mood is with themed stuff.  Set the table at the hotel with these animal plates and these nose cups.  Stick these animal toothpicks in your bento lunches.  Run around the rest stop blowing these zoo bubbles.  If you know about the trip a few weeks before you leave, you can have a lot of fun searching at party stores, dollar stores, and thrift stores for fun swag for your Party on Wheels.

I hope you enjoyed my tutorial and have found it interesting and motivating.  For more travel themed posts, check out Travel Time Tuesday, every week on my blog.



To see what other wonderful ideas Missy has visit her blog In Our Pond

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